Ryan of the future, if you’re reading this, it’s already too late.
Just kidding, that’s a little time-travel joke for you. Has that geeky humor served you well in the classroom? One of the greatest out-of-classroom lessons we learned was to laugh at our self. I hope you’ve been able to impart that to your students. Life is just a little bit easier when we don’ take ourselves so seriously, and I’m planning on modelling that for my students. I hope it creates a classroom environment that makes it easier for students to be comfortable, at ease, and where they can be themselves.
Is your classroom the safe space we wanted it to be? How have you handled students–and adults!–who threaten that space? Looking forward, I’m idealistic about using that classroom to talk about more than algebra, geometry, or physics. That room can be a home for real conversations and vulnerability. Have you been able to foster that?
I’m really curious to find out how you decided to have your students address you. Right now, I’m at a loss for how to deal with a gender-neutral form of respectable address. It occurs to me now, as I’m writing this, that this could be an excellent struggle to bring before your class. This is something we have to deal with culturally, that we haven’t crafted within our language a way to include non-binary folk. Bringing real-life into the classroom often is a goal I’m reaching for; how did you do with it?
Have you found a position from which you can push for reform? I know you’re going to have to deal with testing pressures as a reality of teaching, but do you have some place where you’re fighting for a change? What sort of alternatives are you advocating for? Have our journal and essay ideas worked out?
What about pushing for change within your students? Are you encouraging activism within them, helping them learn self-advocacy? Along with passion for math and physics, these are the lasting lessons I want to share with students. What sort of push-back are you receiving from other teachers, administration, or parents? I’m confident we’ve stood firm in this conviction, as it is so important for becoming an effective adult capable of bringing about change.
I’m looking forward to catching up with you day-by-day and discovering the answer to these questions for myself. I promise to keep taking care of us.
Ryan (circa 2015)